Seven Steps To Cleaning And Sealing Terracotta
Hello folks, this is David Allen from Abbey Floor Care, and we are here today to talk about cleaning and sealing Terracotta floor tiles.
Before we begin, just a little bit of housekeeping. If you’re watching or listening to this after publication and have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop your question in the comments below or drop me a line at my website contact page.
The idea for this talk is from the questions I get about cleaning and sealing Terracotta. I suggest you visit this a couple of times or more, to get a good overview of the process before planning your work.
As I said, if you need any clarification, drop me a line.
So, let’s go. As I said, we are talking about cleaning and sealing Terracotta floor tiles.
Lets start with the equipment you need.
It’s true to say that cleaning Terracotta with a rotary scrubbing machine is far easier and takes less time.
But, if you don’t have experience using these machines, you can still clean the tiles by hand if you are comfortable working on your knees and have the enthusiasm to see the work through.
Here is a lit of the equipment and materials you need.
- A vacuum cleaner
- A stiff hand scrubbing brush and a white emulsifying pad for cleaning
- A stiff brush for polishing the wax.
- A Grout cleaning brush
- A Mop and bucket
- A wet vacuum if you have one
- A natural bristle brush or small lambswool or bonded fibre roller to apply the sealer remover.
The sealer remover will attack plastic bristles and rollers.
- A Brush or soft cloths to apply the oil or sealers
- Knee Pads – I recommend you use recoil knee pads.
You can get them from the recoil website or Amazon
They are pricey, but they will pay for themselves in comfort.
- Protective gloves
- Protective goggles
- The sealer remover will soften and blister paint. So I suggest protecting your skirtings with protective drop cloth with masking tape, which you can get from Screwfix.
Cleaners and Sealers.
I recommend you use LTP products. I use them and they do a great job. There are other products, which are probably just as good. It’s just that I’ve never had a problem with LTP’s products.
You can get the cleaners and sealers online or from your local Tile Giant store.
Chemicals for cleaning the floor
- LTP Solvex for removing the surface wax or sealer
- LTP Grimex to help remove the Solvex slurry and ingrained soil from the floor.
Before purchasing any sealers, you need to decide on the finish you want.
You can have a Traditional natural looking wax finish or a modern sealer finish.
If you prefer a waxed finish, you will need LTP Boiled Linseed Oil.
LTP Clear Wax or LTP Antique Wax
If you prefer a modern finish; you will need LTP Colour Enhancing Impregnating sealer and LTP Ironwax Satin or LTP Ironwax Gloss, depending on the level of gloss you are looking for.
And finally, Plenty of elbow grease
Now, let’s get to work.
Step One: Turn off any underfloor heating 48 hours before starting work.
Heated tiles will reduce the effectiveness of the cleaners and make the work more difficult.
Step Two: Mask up the skirting boards and any kitchen furniture to stop any sealer remover damaging the finish
Step Three: Remove The Old Waxes, Sealers And Ingrained Soil
- Vacuum the floor to remove dry soil and grit.
- Remove old wax or sealer with LTP Solvex.
Before using the Solvex, make sure the top of the LTP Solvex container is screwed on tight. Then shake the container to mix all the ingredients. I find the product separates in the container after being left on a shelf for a while. It should pour like a cream rather than a porridge.
Spread the Solvex over to the floor in easy to reach sections using a natural bristle paint brush, soft cloth or a small lambswool paint roller.
Let the Solvex sit for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye out to make sure it doesn’t dry. If areas are drying, top them up. The sealer remover will soften the waxes and old sealers.
- Make up a solution of Grimex. Use one part of Grimex to three parts of water. Add the Grimex to the water to minimalise splashing.
Pour some cleaner onto the Solvex and scrub the treated area with a white pad or scrubbing brush. Then remove the solution with a mop and bucket or a wet vac.
- Repeat the process until all the surface deposits are removed. Don’t forget the grout. Use a grout brush to get into any deep-set grout.
- Rinse the area with clean water to remove remaining residues and remove the slurry with a mop or wet vacuum.
- Move onto the next area and continue until the whole floor is clean.
Step Four – Prepare the Floor For Sealing
After cleaning the Terracotta, leave the floor to dry for at least 24 hours before going any further. I advise you to leave the floor for three days, to make sure the Terracotta is dry.
During this drying time, be careful not to drop soil or spills onto the floor. If you need to use the floor, use cotton dust sheets to protect the floor.
Don’t use plastic sheets. They stop moisture evaporating. Whereas cotton lets the floor breathe so the moisture can evaporate.
Step Five – Sealing The Floor
In most cases, your floor will look lighter and slightly “washed out” after cleaning. A sealer will bring the colour back to the Terracotta.
If you prefer a waxed finish; use Boiled Linseed Oil or Stone Oil to bring the colour back to your Terracotta.
If you prefer a modern sealer finish; you can use Colour Enhancing Sealer.
Working in controlled sections, apply the sealer. Wait for about 20 minutes. If there any areas of pooled sealer, redistribute the sealer over the tiles. Check again after 30 minutes and remove any excess sealer from the tiles with a soft cloth.
If the tiles are very porous, and the sealer has soaked straight into the tiles, I suggest you apply a second coat.
With Boiled Linseed Oil, leave the floor for half a day before applying the second coat.
With impregnating sealer, leave the floor for a couple of hours before applying a second coat.
When you have finished sealing, be careful with the application cloths. Oil and Solvent-soaked rags can pose a fire risk. So leave the rags outside in a safe place to dry before throwing them away.
Step Six: Surface Protection
We’re nearly at the end of the work.
If you have sealed the floor with Boiled Linseed Oil. Apply a light coat of LTP Clear Wax or LTP Antique Wax using a soft cloth. Again, work in easy to reach sections. Then buff the area to a sheen with your stiff polishing brush.
Apply a second coat of wax and buff the area with a stiff brush.
Leave the floor for at least three hours before walking over it.
Don’t clean the floor for at least three days.
If you prefer a sealer finish and you have sealed the floor with Impregnating Sealer.
Apply the surface sealer with a microfiber cloth or a paint pad. Avoid drips and puddles and make sure the sealer is evenly distributed on the surface.
The sealer should be dry enough for an additional coat after one hour.
For maximum protection, I suggest you apply six coats of surface sealer.
Don’t clean the floor for three days.
Phew, finished, well not really because here comes the most important job.
Step Seven: Regular Maintenance
Looking after your floor well will significantly increase the life of your floor finish and making sure your floor always looks great.
Your new finish will protect the tiles from water and grease spills. But it’s still important to wipe off any food and drink spills when they happen.
- Vacuum or dry sweep the floor every day to remove surface soil and grit.
- Damp mop your floor two to three times a week, more frequently in heavy use areas.
- Don’t use standard floor cleaning products. They can contain chemicals that will break down the wax or sealer.
If the floor has a wax finish, use LTP Wax Wash. If the Terracotta has a surface sealer, use LTP Floorshine.
Well, that’s about it.
Personally, I wouldn’t want to clean and seal a large Terracotta floor by hand, but many people do, and do it very well.
However, if you have a large floor or don’t want to do it yourself or can’t do the work yourself, please drop me a line. I’ll be happy to give you a quote for the work.